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A set of three studies “disrupt some long-held deficit-based thinking” around rural students, students with disabilities and English learners. See research findings and recommendations below from dedicated NATP Sponsor, NWEA:

Research findings

  • Rural students enter kindergarten with higher levels of achievement in math and reading than their non-rural peers and also grow slightly more during the school year — but then they fall behind those peers by 3rd grade due to greater summer learning slides.
  • Although students with disabilities enter kindergarten with lower achievement, they too show higher rates of growth during some school years but experience larger academic losses during the summer.
  • Set of three studies shows students who are consistently identified as needing English Learner services tend to lose more ground over the summer than their non-EL or multilingual peers who were ELs at some point but not consistently in K-4.  
  • Research demonstrated the disproportionate impact that learning interruptions have on their achievement in the long-term. 


  • Need for high-quality summer programming to help support rural students in the recovery period from COVID-19.
  • Education leaders should direct high-quality resources to rural schools, especially those farther from urbanized areas, to offer programs during the summer and other out-of-school times to help students maintain and build on academic skills acquired during the school year.
  • Resources should also be provided to local communities to engage students in activities that apply and supplement their in-school learning.


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